(London: Printed by W. Wilson for R. Clutterbuck, 1646). 190 x 140 mm. (7 3/8 x 5 1/2"). 2 p.l., 15 pp. FIRST EDITION.
Fine hazel brown crushed morocco, gilt, by Riviere & Son (stamp-signed on front turn-in), covers with French fillet border, raised bands, spine compartments delicately gilt with central fleuron and curling cornerpieces, gilt titling, turn-ins densely gilt with plain gilt rules and decorative rolls, all edges gilt. Front pastedown with bookplate of the Fox Pointe Collection, Library of Dr. & Mrs. H. R. Knohl. Wing D-368. A breath of wear to front joint, trivial defects internally (minor offsetting to endpapers from turn-ins, faint dampstain to lower gutter corner of leaves, quires B and C a bit browned, final leaf with neatly repaired short marginal tear), but a very attractive copy, the text excellent, and the decorative binding virtually unworn.
This is a very scarce collection of confessions and testimony given during the East Anglia Witch Hunt of 1644-47, during which self-appointed "Witchfinder General" Matthew Hopkins tried and hanged approximately 300 people, mostly women--more than had been executed for witchcraft in the previous 100 years. The 14 interviews recorded here contain both confessions of accused witches and testimony of witnesses against them, all taken down between 31 March and 2 May 1646; the Huntingdon witches were executed in May. The proceedings were recorded first-hand by John Davenport, an employee of Justice of the Peace Sir Robert Bernard, one of the magistrates who presided over the trials. It is interesting that at the end of this work, Davenport recommends "Select Cases of Conscience touching Witches and Witchcrafts," the work of Hopkins' most vociferous opponent, John Gaule, vicar of Great Staughton, whose denunciation of Hopkins' dubious methods helped bring the witch-hunts to an end. This is quite a rare work, with ESTC and OCLC finding just five copies in the UK and five in the US. RBH and ABPC list just one other copy at auction, sold at Sotheby's in 1930, and its (brief) description suggests that it may, in fact, be the present one. (ST14943)
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PJP Catalog: BOS19BF.061